Where Catherine Breiwick grew up, running was not just a hobby, it was survival. Before she came to the United States, Catherine (a member of Coon Rapids-Bunker Moms on the Run) and her family literally ran from their village to escape violence. Now she uses running as her therapy — and has qualified for her second Boston marathon this April.
Read more of Catherine's amazing story and learn why she's our inspiring member of the month.
"My journey with MOTR began in the summer of 2018 when I took a leap of faith and registered with the Coon Rapids-Bunker Hills group. I actually became aware of MOTR after seeing an advertisement and a booth at the Twin Cities Marathon expo in the fall of 2017 when I ran my first full marathon. Joining a fitness group was a new adventure for me because I had no idea what it entailed, but I figured it was worth exploring the possibility of networking with like-minded women. I'm so glad I took the chance because I've developed some of the best relations with such amazing and inspirational people. The #MOTRstrong is realized in these relationships because we're stronger together in every aspect of life. We all bring different strengths which bring the best out of each other.
My journey as a runner started long before I realized that it was a sport or a hobby. I am originally from Liberia (Nimba County), West Africa where I grew up and lived until resettling in the United States (MN) in 1998. The background is important because this means that I grew up in a war-torn country the majority of my adolescence. My very first memory of running was for our lives in 1985, when a failed presidential coup had us running from our village. Fast forward to 1989 at the start of the civil war, which lasted for about a decade. I ran on foot to the neighboring country, just crossing the border to safety because our tribe (Gio/Mano) was the target of mass killing by government forces. Throughout the years, it became less about tribal when other rebel forces were getting involved and attacking each other, sending us to refugee centers (abandoned schools, churches, etc) because you had no idea if you'd be in the next crossfires, or the mortal being launched will hit your family. Of course, nobody was spared from these places because the government forces did their fair share of massacre in churches and on people seeking refuge at the United States Embassy grounds. When you're a kid knowing that nowhere is safe, you rely on your ability to just run when others are running, which was aimless but for my life because I had no idea whether we were spared at each stop. When people are being hit by stray bullets in the group, you take off and run aimlessly to take cover.
The act of running for my life became apparent when every loud 'boom' had me jumping to hide, not knowing this was a manifestation of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I later realized that running was an escape for me literally, so I began to incorporate it into my method in dealing with stress. I also realized the health benefits of exercise as a healthcare provider, so I figured making this a hobby and practicing what I educate patients could benefit everyone. I currently practice as an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP-C), seeing patients in the community and assessing their overall wellbeing and means of managing whatever concerns/conditions they might have. I have been a Registered Nurse for more than 15 years with critical care (ICU) and hospice/palliative care background. I feel blessed being someone that could be a source of resources, and often the only outside contact that some of my patients might have for days. Working in the community with mostly geriatric and/or disabled patients who are often isolated is a blessing to me. I can assess their needs, be a friend and visit with them for a while in their 'homes.'
I am married to a wonderful man named Aaron, and together we have two amazing/smart children (Aidan-15, and Ava-10). Showing the children that it's ok to have a healthy hobby of your own is important to me. They've also developed their own, such as competitive dance for Ava, Black Belt in Karate for Aidan, along with both doing short distance races, such as 5K and 10K, with me occasionally. Ava has participated in the annual MOTR end-of-summer 5K for three consecutive years. They're very proud of me for earning the Boston Marathon qualifier for two consecutive marathons, and I'm set to run the 126th Boston Marathon on 4/18/2022."
Catherine says: "Our past does not define us. We choose how we make the best of our past experiences to benefit ourselves and others around us."